Daily Archives: March 12, 2014

SA not a springboard for illegal activities

Pretoria: The South African government says it will not allow its territory to be used as a springboard for any illegal activities.

“As the South African government, we want to send a stern warning to anybody, anywhere in the world, that our country will not be used as a springboard to do illegal activities. We are a constitutional democracy, and any individuals or groups of people who abuse our human rights dispensation will face the full might of the law,” Justice Minister Jeff Radebe told a Post-State of the Nation Address briefing in Cape Town on Wednesday.

He was answering a question regarding Pretoria’s expulsion of diplomats from Rwanda regarding attacks on South African soil against Rwandan exiled opposition members.

Radebe said certain individuals were expelled because they violated Article 41 of the Vienna Convention and Article 9 of the Diplomatic Amenities and Privileges Act , arising from illegal activities that have taken place, where there where attempted murders, including the murder of nationals who are in South Africa.

The minister said good diplomatic relations existed between Rwanda and South Africa and this remained intact.


Agriculture Committee calls for farmers’ relief

Members of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries have observed the extent of damage caused by the current heavy rains in some parts of the country and call on the Government to provide the flood-stricken farmers and communities with the required relief to ensure that the floods’ repercussions do not result in dire food insecurity.

The Committee urges the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and other relevant stakeholders to minimise the impact of floods by ensuring that sufficient extension services to farmers, especially in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and North West areas, are received. The Committee further urges the Department to ensure that extension officers are highly visible during this period.

The Committee Chairperson, Mr Lulu Johnson, said that while disaster management and emergency services teams continue to issue early flood warnings and evacuate affected people, the Committee also calls upon the department and the industry to pay special attention to farmers and to dispatch extension officers to constantly monitor the situation across the affected provinces.

“Since the outbreak of these floods, we have heard few reports about the impact in the agricultural sector. However, this does not necessarily mean our farmers and their activities are immune to these floods. Thus, as the Committee, we are fully aware that the small and developing farmers will be the worst victims of this natural disaster. Hence we call for constant monitoring,” Mr Johnson said.

The Committee believes that the use of communications platforms, including national, community and social media, can improve efforts to disseminate messages and warnings to all farmers.


World Cup united S Africans: Deputy Pres Motlanthe

Pretoria: The 2010 FIFA World Cup allowed all South Africans, regardless of race, to be united in support of Bafana Bafana and to enjoy football throughout the tournament, says outgoing Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

In his oral reply to questions in the National Council of Provinces on Wednesday, the Deputy President said the creation of fan parks was a significant contributory factor in enhancing social cohesion that allowed South Africans of different backgrounds to interact with one another.

Furthermore, the increased sense of safety during the 2010 FIFA World Cup facilitated socialising and mixing across racial and social boundaries.

“The hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup by South Africa was, from the onset, understood to be on behalf of the whole African continent and the tournament was set to be an African World Cup, partly aimed at integrating aspects of continental development programmes as well as legacy initiatives,” he said.

Deputy President Motlanthe said the completion of stadia on time helped dispel negative stereotypes about the African continent within the global community and enhanced national pride.

He said the World Cup served to mobilise the nation to instil a sense of patriotism and to unite Africa, adding that various sporting and peace initiatives that were undertaken in the continent, as part of the World Cup, did much to contribute to development and national unity.

Anti-poverty programme

The Deputy President said the Anti-Poverty Programme that he championed adopted targets places that need it the most.

“The programme identifies beneficiaries who ought to access services but are not. In order to achieve this, the methodology used is through the profiling of households in identified wards.

“To this end, the programme facilitates the identification of priority wards where beneficiaries are most in need of services. These services vary in nature depending on the identified needs such as skills development, education and training, career-pathing,” he said.

At a household level, the programme aims to consolidate the provision of services to achieve maximum impact, including providing relevant information as well as facilitating access to services.

HIV and Aids

The Deputy President said the national antiretroviral programme is accessible to all those who are eligible for treatment, irrespective of their country of origin.

“Each of the countries in the region conducts their own treatment programmes and thus there are no partnerships.

“However, countries share information and best practice through established institutions such as the WHO-AFRO, the African Union and the United Nations,” he said.

He further said the South African National AIDS Council has not discussed issues related to intellectual property as the Department of Trade and Industry is seized with such matters.

Foreign investment

According to the Deputy President, government remains engaged with key stakeholders on matters that affect perceptions of South Africa as a favourable investment destination, especially in mining and minerals development.

“We consider our engagements with the investment communities in the United Kingdom and Canada as having yielded the desired results as they now have a deeper appreciation for the South African challenges in the sector, but also an awareness of the opportunities that lie ahead,” he said.


Minister Nkoana-Mashabane concludes Working Visit to the Republic of Chile

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has today, Wednesday, 12 March 2014, concluded a successful working visit to Santiago, the Republic of Chile, where she represented South Africa at the inauguration ceremonies of Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.

The Presidential inauguration ceremonies took place on 10 and 11 March 2014 in the cities of Santiago and Valparaiso, respectively.

This is President Bachelet’s second term in office after holding a first term from 2006 to 2010.

Leaders from Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Uruguay, amongst others, attended the inauguration.

In addition, Spain’s Prince Felipe, the Vice-Presidents of the United States of America and Nicaragua, as well as foreign dignitaries from Botswana, Croatia, Finland, Italy, Kenya, Namibia, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa and the United Kingdom, were among the many guests present at President Bachelet’s inauguration.

During her visit to Chile, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane met with her counterpart, the new Chilean Foreign Minister, Mr Heraldo Muñoz.

On 8 March 2014, the Minister also led the opening ceremony of the new Chancery of the South African Embassy in Santiago.

South Africa and Chile enjoy cordial and growing bilateral relations. The South Africa-Chile Joint Consultative Mechanism (JCM), established in 1998, continues to serve a constructive purpose in the ongoing political dialogue between the two countries at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels.

South Africa remains one of the largest foreign investors in the Chilean economy. South African companies regularly participate in large international mining exhibitions that take place in Chile.


SKA gets R1.7bn British injection

Pretoria: Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom has welcomed a UK contribution of R1.7 billion to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project.

“The significance of this announcement … is in the impetus that this provides to implementation of Phase 1 of the SKA.

“This is a most welcome commitment and reaffirms the global partnership of the SKA countries in this mega project,” Minister Hanekom said on Tuesday.

UK Minister of State for Universities and Science, David Willetts, who made the announcement, visited the South African SKA site in the Northern Cape last year on 12 September 2013 accompanied by Dr Bernie Fanaroff, the SKAPO Director.

The UK is a major player in the global SKA project, and is host to the head office of the SKA Organisation, located at the Jodrell Bank Observatory, near Manchester.

“South Africa and the UK are already collaborating extensively in the field of radio astronomy, with 25 research organisations and more than 80 individual scientists from the UK directly involved in the large survey teams that will use the MeerKAT telescope for research during its first five years of operation,” the Department of Science and Technology said.

This includes scientists from Oxford University and from Manchester University.

There is also extensive SKA-related cooperation on big data and high-performance computing with Cambridge University, which Minister Hanekom visited in January 2014.

The SKA project is a global scientific enterprise to build one of the largest scientific instruments ever envisaged.

It is being designed to answer fundamental questions in physics, astronomy and cosmology in order for us to understand the origin and workings of the Universe better, and to reveal new and unexpected phenomena that will enthrall and challenge us.

The South African government has made a contribution of close to R4 billion for the MeerKAT and the associated human capital development programmes. South Africa is currently building the 64-dish MeerKAT radio telescope, a precursor to the SKA.

The MeerKAT, with a further 190 antennas to be built on the same site, will make up the first phase of the mid-frequency component of the SKA.

The second phase of the SKA will see further mid frequency antennas constructed across South Africa and in eight African SKA partner countries. Complementary components of the SKA will be located in Australia, the co-host country of what will be the world’s largest radio telescope.

South Africa will launch its first MeerKAT antenna on 27 March 2014 and envisage completing the 64-dish array by 2016/17.

The SKA will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. The total collecting area will be approximately one square kilometre giving 50 times the sensitivity, and 10 000 times the survey speed, of the best current-day telescopes.

The SKA will be built in Africa and in Australia. Thousands of receptors will extend to distances of up to 3 000 km from the central regions.

The SKA will address fundamental unanswered questions about our Universe including how the first stars and galaxies formed after the big bang, how dark energy is accelerating the expansion of the Universe, the role of magnetism in the cosmos, the nature of gravity, and the search for life beyond Earth.